Striking staff of the Pantang Mental Hospital say they will only return to work fully if government assures them it will halt the encroachment on the hospital’s lands.
The workers called a partial strike on Monday to protest the ‘massive’ takeover of the hospital’s land by private individuals, some of whom have built at the frontage of the facility.
Accra’s second mental health facility which was built in 1975 after the Accra Psychiatric Hospital had an initial land space in excess of 344 acres, however, private developers have encroached on the property to the extent that it is feared the hospital will soon lose the right of way.
“There is no public health facility that big as Pantang that will have private developers hiding within it,” a worried acting Medical Director, Dr Frank Baning, stated on Joy FM‘s Super Morning Show yesterday.
Dr Baning added, “Here, we have people who are occasionally aggressive and it is not good to have private developers right at the frontage.”
Unfortunately, the hospital lost a legal battle it embarked upon to reclaim the encroached portions of its land.
The Local Chairperson of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA), Winifred Peasah, who also spoke on the programme, mentioned that the staff of the facility have “absorbed more than they can absorb”, hence the resort to the action.
“We still want to hear from the government…halt the development and then we will come back to work,” Mrs Peasah told the host of the show, Kojo Yankson.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the facility has not received its budgetary allocation for the past three years, except funds directed at paying for specific activities performed by service providers.
Dr Frank Baning disclosed a budget estimation of GH¢8million presented to the Health Ministry was slashed to about ¢133,000.
However, seven months into the year, nothing has been advanced into the accounts of the Pantang Hospital.
The only washing machine which the hospital has been operating with for over 20 years has broken down, and management is struggling to get it fixed because the hospital is broke, the medical director stated.
The situation, he said, has resulted in the infestation of bed bugs, compounding the challenges that the hospital has to deal with.
“The fundamental challenge here is a lack of commitment from leadership (national level)…we don’t see mental health as a health issue. We always consider mental health as part of general healthcare,” he grieved.
He, therefore, called for a policy intervention to “cure” the financing of mental health, which he described as “one of the fundamental challenges” of the sector.